On Sunday, September 29, 2019, shortly after 4:00 a.m., a fatal motor vehicle collision occurred at the intersection of John F. Kennedy Boulevard and 76th Street in North Bergen. The collision was observed by a nearby North Bergen Police Officer who was on patrol in the area.
After reporting the collision, the police officer responded to the scene and immediately began rendering aid to the two drivers who were both trapped in their vehicles. There were no other occupants of either vehicle.
Additional North Bergen police officers, North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene to render aid and assist with traffic control.
The initial investigation by the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit and the North Bergen Police Department revealed that a 2018 Nissan Pathfinder driven by Denisse Ortega, age 34, of New Milford, was traveling north on John F. Kennedy Boulevard when she collided with a 2012 Nissan Altima driven westbound on 76th Street by Mario Santamaria Sr. It was determined that Ortega failed to obey multiple traffic signals while traveling on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
Santamaria, age 66, of North Bergen, was transported by EMS to Jersey City Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at approximately 5:15 a.m.
Ortega was treated at the scene before being transported by EMS to Palisades Medical Center. Ortega was subsequently transferred to Hackensack University Medical Center where she is currently being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
One of the North Bergen police officers who responded to the scene was injured while rendering aid to one of the drivers. After receiving aid at the scene, the officer was transported by EMS to Palisades Medical Center where he received additional medical treatment.
An arrest warrant for Ortega has been issued charging her with one count of Death by Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5, a second-degree crime. Additional charges and summonses may be pending.
Prosecutor Suarez credited the Regional Collision Investigation Unit and the North Bergen Police Department with the investigation.
The Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit is actively investigating this case with assistance from the North Bergen Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip at: http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.
The above charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).